Our Story

Climbing fish is designed to solve a problem.

The trend of decreasing diversity and social intimacy

We are all shaped, to a greater extent than any other species, by contact with others. On the surface in this 'connected world' we should feel satisfied but there’s a big difference between being surrounded by or hyper linked to lots of people and having moments of genuine human connection with them. 

This is not a healthy situation, so just like you exercise your body, Climbing Fish aims to exercise your mind by creating opportunities to bridge circumscribed worlds and set up conversations we believe will be interesting and fulfilling for you.  All you need to do is make the most out of the possibilities they unlock and become what we call Socially Actualized. So join us and engineer some diversity and social intimacy into your life and be part of the social congregating not the seperating.  


Whats needed to join? Just spend a moment to set up a short profile! We do mean short.
1. Very basic contact details (must either work or live be in NY area) 

2. 300 character profile on the real you. It’s not a resume so spare us the LinkedIn type BS.
Three Books that have influenced your life. The best conversation Icebreakers (see ours below). 
4. We then ask for credit card details as we ask for $20.00 per month. Expect between 1 and 3 suggested connections a month for that.

Once submitted, WE, not a machine, make your first connection. You just set up a time and place to meet. After meeting, here's a unique twist, we ask you to select the next connection for the person you have just met, and they return the favour. So again it's not an algorithm that decides your journey. 


Our Back Story 

Evolution of Climbing Fish (abridged version)

I came to New York in 2012 from England and wanted to get into the community asap. I had two options, LinkedIn business style meetings or Meetup group. I tried these but always felt that I was meeting people very much like me and secondly there was always an agenda. I had been reading a lot about the power of conversations and now that can inform your perceptions so I couldn't help thinking there was a third option. Some safe way of meeting interesting diverse people in New York to offer a little serendipity into my life. And so Climbing Fish was born. It's a group, community,  mental fitness club whatever you want to call it, of people who recognise the value of meeting and conversing with diverse individuals with no agenda other than getting to know each other, and identifying if we can assist each other.  So what have you to lose, get involved and see where it takes you.


Evolution of Climbing Fish (longer version)

The name comes from a quote attributed to (although we suspect not) Einstein: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” In short, we believed that many of us are in roles in life that don't match our real interests, but changing this situation is a scary proposition for many. As a result we go through life struggling in first gear, like a fish climbing a tree that never discovers its true passion is swimming. Its an idea shared by among others Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell and Sir Ken Robinson we set out to find a solution. That solution was to explore the possibilities through connecting with others in the same situation. 

We spent many months evolving the idea and in July 2012, version 1 emerged and was launched to a closed test group in the beautiful city of Bath, in England. To our delight (and relief) we discovered a ready audience who loved the idea. We collected 1,000 active members and started them on a series of introductions based on their back-story and future aspirations.

What became obvious after the 100+ follow-up face-to-face interviews that there was two groups of people who loved the idea. The first group were those who were into meeting to benefit their career only. In fact members started many businesses off our introductions, that are still going strong. 

The second group were those looking to connect with others as they saw the human connecting process in itself as something very positive, healthy even. They had ideas of what they wanted to do but needed to connect and sound off these ideas with like minded individuals willing to listen. What’s encouraging for us is that many claimed that they had begun to refine their ideas and grow in confidence that they would act on these ideas following the conversations we set up. 

Another unifying factor with this group is they saw connecting and focusing on helping other as the means to finding their personal satisfaction. This was less like the individualisticly focused Maslow's Self-actualizing and more what we began to term Social-Actualizing. 

So on 1st June 2013, with all Version-1 pilot lessons taken on board, we launched Version-2, to the good people of New York City. Today we have a passionate community who are very happy to talk about the positive outcomes their Climbing Fish connections have made to their lives. Check out their interviews HERE.  

Both Phil and I were strangers in the summer of 2011. Two to three honest conversations later, we connected and were inspired to start this business. We are enjoying working together on the Climbing Fish mission and after 3 years of encouragement from members we now know where our genius lies and how to apply it. 

So com'on, find like-minded people, make new friends, new business partners even. Voice your concerns and opinions. Join discussions. get challenged. Learn from others. In other words, use social media to beef up your (real) social life, congregate not separate. 



Contact Phil or John on phil@climbingfish.com and john@climbingfish.com

Three books that got us here

The three main books that have influenced the business..

  1. Working Identity by Herminia Ibarra who talks about how Identities change in practice, as we start doing new things (crafting experiments), interacting with different people (shifting connections), and reinterpreting our life stories through the lens of the emerging possibilities.
  2. Linchpin by Seth Godin who claims that we all have the ability to be geniuses but what do we do with this genius when we are surrounded by “Whiners, Bureaucrats and Fundamentalist Zealots who make the world smaller, poorer, meaner.” The solution connect with other Linchpins.
  3. Give & Take by Adam Grant who demolishes the argument of the 'me first' world-view and shows that the best way to get to the top is to focus not on your solo journey but by looking to assist others. Givers are winners in our world.